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Annual tournament to incorporate BirdieBall fun and local history
Downtown Cape Girardeau will turn into a golf course for an afternoon later this month -- one where BirdieBalls, in lieu of regular golf balls, are used.
The First-Ever Seventh Annual Louis J. Lorimier Memorial World-Famous Downtown Golf Tournament and All-You-Can-Eat Catfish Buffet is scheduled for Sept. 30.
The game is played using BirdieBalls, which look like napkin rings and are made of plastic. They were designed to give the feel of real golf balls but only have a range of 35 to 40 yards. Since they are light plastic they are ideal to use in smaller spaces without running the risk of damaging buildings or cars.
Charlie Herbst and Joe Sullivan, the retired editor of the Southeast Missourian, came up with the idea of a golf tournament to raise money for the Red House Interpretive Center several years ago.
"It's a fun game. Some people keep score," Herbst said. "Some just play. It's an honor game."
The nine-hole course is set up in the city streets, between buildings and down alleys. The entire course takes approximately two hours to complete.
"It's like a big putt-putt game in the streets of Cape Girardeau," Herbst said.
Proceeds from the tournament go to the Red House Interpretive Center. Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation oversees the Red House, which is run through a Parks and Recreation Foundation.
"We try to set the course so it's not too enticing to wander," said Julia Thompson, director of the Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation Department. "One year we did actually play through the bar at Buckner's to the waterfront."
Previously the event was held in the middle of summer and the flood walls were closed. Since they are open this year the course will incorporate holes set up on along the floodwall. Thompson is hopeful the cooler temperatures will entice more people to come out.
In past years more than 80 participants participated and two courses were used.
"The entire event is just a spoof," Thompson said. "We try not to take things too seriously."
Louis Lorimier was a key figure in Cape Girardeau's history. He was the city's founder and in the late 1700s had a trading post. The Red House commemorates the trading post and the early settlers of Cape Girardeau. Lewis and Clark visited in November of 1803.
The Red House features a museum, has many special events throughout the year, and even has a Little Trading Post. A volunteer board of directors oversees the Red House Interpretive Center.
This year the golf tournament has a bonus feature thanks to a partnership with Southeast Missouri State's Historic Preservation Club. Volunteers from the club will be at each hole providing a brief "History at the Hole."
"The fountain at the courthouse is one of our signature holes," Herbst said.
Registration begins at the Common Pleas Courthouse at 1 p.m. The tournament begins at 1:30 p.m. A catfish dinner at Port Cape Girardeau will follow at about 3:30 p.m.
There will be transportation to take participants to the first hole. Once participants have completed the course, there will be transportation to take them to Port Cape for the dinner.
At the dinner there will be a special ceremony to recognize sponsors. There is also an awards ceremony where winning participants will receive trophies.
Registration before Sept. 26 is $25, and includes a round of golf, dinner and a T-shirt for the first 100 participants. Registration is $30 after Sept. 26. Thompson encourages people to register early.
"If we have room at the event people can register on site Sept. 30," Thompson said.
Registration forms are available online at www.cityofcapegirardeau.org/parks and in the Southeast Missourian. For more information you can call the Parks and Recreation office at 339-6340.
"If we make $2,000, that's a good event," Thompson said.